Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Little Owl - Behold...The Mighty Meatball Slider

The Little Owl - 90 Bedford Street, New York, NY 10014
F/V/B/D to West 4th Street

I've been dying to try the Little Owl ever since I've started working near the West Village. Making the most out of my lunch hour, I love to walk around this wonderful little neighborhood and explore its culinary gems. More than a culinary gem, The Little Owl has become a treasure that's highly appreciated and desired by more than just its neighbors.

After my long and arduous efforts, I was finally able to make a lunch reservation for myself and four of my lovely co-workers. We had a delicious time and the food spoke for itself.

Tucked away in a quiet corner on Bedford Street at Grove Street, The Little Owl is easy to miss if you don't already know about it. Its facade is cheery and welcoming with a bright red and royal blue color scheme. The windows are truly its eyes, and you can see everything whether you're on the inside looking out or on the outside looking in.

Inside, you'll notice that the space is very intimate and cozy. There are only about a dozen tables (or less) and they're pretty close to each other. We were lucky to sit at a medium sized round table, which was perfect for our fivesome.

There are many special touches that one notices at The Little Owl. Rustic iron chandeliers, vintage crystal dishes that hold little snowflakes of sea salt, and the almighty kitchen, visible for all to admire are just some of these intricacies. They all work together to create a charming eatery that puts you at ease and detaches you from the realities of New York City life.

The food certainly lived up to its expectations. The most popular dish on the menu are the meatball sliders and they've received much praise over the years, including in the September '07 issue of Bon Appetit. We tried them of course, along with these other dishes:

Gravy Meatball Sliders - These were great looking sliders. They looked wonderfully rustic with plump, juicy meatballs poking out of miniature country bread buns. The meat was a mix of beef, pork and veal--and that's what I presume made it so flavorful. An infusion of good pecorino also helped give these a nice bite. I loved them so much that I'd like to get them next time as my entree.

Goat's Cheese Gnocchi - This was both mine and Leann's entree and it was one of the daily specials. In addition to the goat's cheese, it also included ratatouille and shredded rosemary braised lamb. It was yet another stand-out dish and I loved the pairing of the creamy goat's cheese with the tender lamb. I was glad to have some protein with the starch, as it made the gnocchi feel more luxurious. Although the portion was generous, I finished it to the last bite because it was just too good.

Ricotta Cavatelli - Frank got this as his entree but it was an appetizer portion. The cavatelli pasta looked like little oval screws with ridges that caught all the yummy pasta sauce, which included bacon, tomato, escarole and pecorino. The dish had a nice smoky flavor from the bacon, yet it was light enough to eat for lunch. Frank seemed to enjoy it and said that it was the perfect portion.

Diver Scallops - This was Jackie's choice, which she generally liked. She was happy with the actual scallops and said that they were perfectly cooked (not overdone). I agreed, as I took a small bite--they had good consistency and were seasoned well. One thing that Jackie didn't love was the lemon-leek noisette (or a warm sauce) that was drizzled over everything. I think she said that it was too pungent.

Bacon Cheeseburger - A true man's dish, Kenton just simply went for it. It looked impressive and Kenton commented on the generous amount of bacon and the beautifully cooked meat. While I didn't taste it, the excessive amount of cheese on top didn't look appetizing to me.

French Fries - This simple side needs its own explanation because it was so exceptional. The skin on the fries was so crunchy that it was far superior to all other fries I've ever had. They were also seasoned with a spicy rub that was flavorful but not too hot. Just perfect!

Pumpkin Panna Cotta - Believe it or not but we had room for dessert after all this food. The panna cotta was a heavy finish, as it was incredibly rich--and maybe too much so. I only had a couple of spoonfuls because it was so thick--I was expecting it to be lighter. What I loved about it was the fresh whipped cream that was served on the side--airy, light and so sinful.

Service and Cost:
The waitstaff definitely had personality. One of our waiters made conversation with us more than the standard "what can I get you?" and asked us a couple of questions along the way. We also had a waitress, earlier on in the meal who was very knowledgeable about the menu. She explained in detail what cavatelli were and her insight was helpful in our meal selection.

In terms of cost, The Little Owl is moderate. Appetizers range between $8 - $13, entrees between $14 - $22, sides are $6 and dessert is around $9. Our entire meal set us back about $23 per person not including tip.

3 Mmmms

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